Mums are busy people, no ifs, ands or buts about it. They work, shuttle kids, clean up, manage finances and sometimes, if they're lucky, try to find a little time for themselves. That's why more and more mums are turning to smartphone, iPhone and iPad apps to help organise schedules, simplify lives and even provide a bit of entertainment, for both themselves and their children.
Keeping track of a newborn's feedings, sleeping, moods and milestones can overwhelm a new mum, but the Baby Connect app provides some help, allowing you to record every movement your baby makes in a single, secure place. Best of all, you can add authorised users, like babysitters, to make sure everyone stays on the same page.
Mum and freelance journalist Carlene Davis used Baby Connect when her child was a newborn. "It helped me track his feedings, how long he fed, et cetera. I lived by it!" she says.
Spinning Meals Smart Meal Planner
No matter how busy you are, you have to make time to eat. Even more important is making time to feed your family a healthy, delicious meal. Spinning Meals Smart Meal Planner helps get every meal on the table. With the planner, you can budget for groceries, plan dishes around seasonal foods or even according to how much, or little, time you have to prepare the meal.
"Spinning Meals makes planning meals fun and can help take you out of the dinner rut," says Heather Leister, mum and founder of The iPhone Mom blog. "Using the app's recipes, as well as your personal recipes, you spin a wheel to receive random meal plans for a selected number of days. The app creates your grocery list, and you can customise the amount of time you'd like to spend cooking."
Whether it's the baby weight or because bikini season is just around the corner, we all could use some assistance when trying to lose a bit of weight. The Lose It! app is perfect for helping establish calorie goals, setting up meal plans and keeping track of results.
Dana Wilkey, mum and star of the US reality series "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," is a fan of Lose It! "I love that this app allows you to set a goal and a timeline to get to that goal," she says. "I think the idea of filling a budget of calories is fun and makes you feel like you're accomplishing something, especially if you log exercise."
Women's Health Workouts
Staying on track with a workout regimen is good for the body and for the mind. Whether you find a bit of time at home or you manage to make it to the gym, the Women's Health Workouts app will help you sculpt your body into a lean, toned and sexy one. With plenty of workouts that specifically target women's problem areas, as well as timers, logs and online expert support, this app will keep you looking and feeling your best.
When you find yourself racing between the office, yoga and the supermarket, turn to the SigAlert.com app. It helps you avoid traffic jams, giving real-time road speeds and round-the-clock traffic reports.
"This app is best for working mums who have to take the motorway," says Linda Bassett Puertas, mum, director of academic support and Law professor. "SigAlert has saved me on several occasions when I'm rushing home to pick up my son after work or running late into the office."
While the Google Maps app is certainly handy, the Mum Maps app is even better for women with children. Mum Maps helps moms find kid-friendly parks, restaurants and playgrounds. Use it to find the perfect play-date place in your neighborhood or a fun child-centric museum or attraction when you're traveling. You can read reviews from other mums, share your own thoughts and read tips from parent bloggers and family travel experts.
Scramble with friends
Games are not just for children; they're also the perfect way to stay in touch with friends when you just don't have time to sit down for coffee.
"This is my go-to app when I have spare extra minutes here and there," says Leister. "I've tried Words With Friends and Hanging With Friends, but Scramble is by far my favourite in the series. I like the faster turnaround time and the ability to score those points! Scramble is friendly enough that I can even play against my children."
Whatsapp is a free text messaging service so every mum can keep tabs on where their teenage children are, chat with their friends and stay in contact with the whole family.
Mint.com Personal Finance
Finances: Yuck. To alleviate the stress of balancing budgets and paying bills, as well as tracking your spending to better manage your cash flow, make use of the Mint.com Personal Finance app. It's the perfect way to simplify your finances so you can spend more time doing something nice for yourself.
"Mint is great," says Sarah Pollack, mum and founder of SimplyStylist.com. "It's great for reminding me to pay bills, and it really helps when it comes to budgeting."
Apps are a great way to keep the kids entertained. And if you can give them a jump-start to the head of the class at the same time, why not do so?
"My youngest loves LetterSchool for learning to write her letters," says Leister. "Children trace the letters on screen in a variety of ways. They watch them sprout with flowers, turn into caterpillars, shoot rockets and much more. The app is completely engaging, as educational as it is entertaining. Even my pre-teen is captivated by this one."
When your baby gets fussy, the Baby Shusher app just might do the trick.
"Luckily, I haven't had to use this yet, but my friend swears by Baby Shusher," says Davis. "Basically you put your iPhone or iPad in the crib or stroller, and the app will shush the baby until he falls asleep."
As you snap pics of your child's special moments, use the Instagram app to share the shots with family and friends. You can even make the images extra special by adding filters and borders. Store them on your phone or print them out to add to the perfect fridge collage.
"I love Instagram," says Pollack. "It makes every photo child- and parent- approved."